Exporting From Nigeria Made Easy: Key Facts and 100 Lucrative Things to Export
What You Should Know About Exporting From Nigeria
Exporting goods and services from Nigeria can be a lucrative business opportunity. With a large domestic market, abundant natural resources, and access to international shipping routes, Nigeria has great potential as an exporting nation.
However, exporting also comes with its own set of challenges and requirements. This guide will provide an overview of everything you need to know to get started exporting from Nigeria.
Why Export From Nigeria?
There are several advantages to exporting from Nigeria:
- Access to larger international markets – By exporting, you gain access to larger customer bases outside of Nigeria. This provides more opportunities for sales and revenue growth.
- Increased competitiveness – Exporting forces local companies to meet international standards and become more competitive globally. This leads to innovation, improved quality, and increased efficiency.
- Economic growth – Exports bring in foreign currency and investment to Nigeria. More exports stimulate job creation and overall economic expansion.
- Offset imports – Nigeria relies heavily on imports. Developing a robust export sector helps offset the costs of imports and improves Nigeria’s trade balance.
- Stability – Relying solely on local markets leaves a business vulnerable to Nigeria’s economic volatility. Exporting allows mitigation of domestic downturns.
Challenges of Exporting From Nigeria
While exporting presents many rewards, it also comes with some unique challenges in the Nigerian context:
- Weak infrastructure – Nigeria struggles with inadequate power, ports, and transportation infrastructure. This drives up costs and logistics issues for exporters.
- Changing export policies and regulations – Export bans on certain commodities and unstable government export policies present difficulties for long-term planning.
- Limited access to finance – Difficulty accessing trade finance and loans presents obstacles for many Nigerian exporters. High lending rates deter potential exporters.
- Corruption and bureaucracy – Navigating the various bureaucracies and opaque systems while avoiding bribery adds friction and delays.
- Low economies of scale – The small size of many Nigerian manufacturers drives up unit costs, making it difficult to be competitive in foreign markets.
- Negative country image – Security issues, corruption, and infrastructure have created a negative perception of Nigerian companies among global buyers. Nigerian companies must work harder to prove themselves as reputable suppliers.
Major Exported Commodities
Nigeria’s primary export commodities are:
- Crude oil and petroleum products – Petroleum accounts for over 80% of Nigeria’s exports. Nigeria is a major oil producer and one of the world’s biggest oil exporters. Key exports are crude oil, petroleum gas, kerosene, and other oil-derived products.
- Natural gas – Nigeria has the largest natural gas reserves in Africa. Natural gas is exported in its liquefied form (LNG) to global markets.
- Cocoa – Cocoa beans, butter, powder, and chocolate products are top agricultural exports. Nigeria is the fourth biggest cocoa bean producer globally.
- Rubber – Rubber tapping and processing provide major export revenue, particularly for rubber gloves, footwear, thread, and tires.
- Aluminium – Unwrought aluminium and aluminium alloys are exported from Nigeria’s bauxite and aluminium smelting operations.
- Precious metals – Gold, silver, and platinum are mined and exported out of Nigeria to destinations such as the UAE.
- Coffee, tea, spices – Nigeria exports robusta coffee beans along with black tea and food spices.
- Cashew nuts – Raw and processed cashew nuts are a fast-growing agricultural export.
- Leather – Nigerian leather from cattle hides get exported as wet blue leather or finished leather products.
- Palm oil – Refined palm oil and palm kernels are major food exports, along with derivatives like fatty acids and glycerin.
In addition to the above commodities, Nigeria exports a range of manufactured goods, machinery, transport equipment, and creative service exports like Nollywood films, music, and fashion.
Key Export Markets
Nigeria’s largest export markets are:
- India – Nigeria exports crude oil, LNG, cocoa, leather, and more to satisfy India’s expanding energy and commodity needs.
- Spain – Spain imports Nigerian oil, gas, cocoa, rubber, and aluminium. It is Nigeria’s largest EU export partner.
- France – France relies on Nigerian fuel, cocoa, rubber, and precious metals and is Nigeria’s second-largest EU export destination.
- South Africa – As the top economy in Africa, South Africa imports Nigerian crude oil, cocoa, rubber and other industrial supplies.
- Netherlands – The Netherlands serves as a major logistics hub for Nigerian exports of fuel, cocoa beans, rubber, and food commodities entering the broader EU market.
- United States – The United States is Nigeria’s largest export market outside of the EU. Key exports are crude oil and LNG along with cocoa, rubber, and minerals.
- Brazil – Brazil imports large quantities of Nigerian fuel oil, cocoa beans, aluminum and other raw materials for its manufacturing and consumer markets.
- China – Rapid development has driven Chinese demand for Nigerian commodities like oil, gas, rubber, leather, and precious metals.
- Indonesia – Indonesia buys Nigerian crude oil, palm oil, cocoa, rubber and other industrial inputs to support its growing population and economy.
- Ghana – Neighboring Ghana imports Nigerian refined and crude oil, rubber, cocoa, and food products.
Getting Started with Nigerian Exports
For entrepreneurs interested in entering the world of Nigerian exports, there are some key steps to take:
- Identify Your Product – Select a product or commodity that you can reliably source or produce at a globally competitive price and quality. The best options are commodities already exported from Nigeria that have established foreign demand.
- Conduct Market Research – Thoroughly analyze the target export countries and customers. Evaluate market size, growth trends, competitors, prices, cultural preferences, and import procedures specific to your product. This will guide your export marketing strategy.
- Select Your Target Markets – Based on your market research, pick a few select export countries to focus on. Prioritize larger markets where your product has a clear competitive advantage or taps into unmet demand. Start small by selecting one to three core export markets.
- Analyze Your Export Potential – Critically evaluate your company’s resources, capabilities, costs and production capacity. Can your operations sustainably support exporting activities? What are the projected costs and profit potential? Address any internal gaps before proceeding.
- Pick An Export Route – Will you export directly to end customers, via an intermediary, or through a dedicated export management company? Choose an option that works best for your target markets.
- Understand Legal Requirements – Learn all Nigerian and foreign legal regulations for your chosen product and export markets. Most countries require specific documentation, certifications, licensing, labeling standards, and restricted item lists. Retain an export specialist lawyer if needed.
- Choose Your Payment Terms – Decide on your foreign payment requirements and methods. Many deals involve letters of credit or are transaction-based. Be cautious of foreign credit terms or currency risks. Work with your bank.
- Arrange Logistics and Shipping – Compare options for air freight, ocean freight, or road transport to deliver your exports from factory to market. Reliable logistics are vital – partner with an experienced freight forwarder.
- Get Export Financing – Pursue pre and post-shipment financing solutions to ease pressures on cash flow. Options include bank loans, export credit agencies, or receivable factoring.
- Market Your Product – Create promotional materials, foreign language websites/ads, engage overseas reps, and exhibit at international trade fairs to generate buyer awareness and orders.
- Manage Your Orders – Develop efficient systems to handle overseas inquiries, orders, production planning, and customer service. Provide transparency and quickly resolve issues.
- Grow Your Presence – Once you succeed in a few test markets, expand your reach to additional countries and increase market penetration. Adapt for each new export market.
Key Nigerian Export Procedures
Nigerian exporters need to follow some essential procedures including:
- Business registration – Register your business with the Corporate Affairs Commission and obtain an RC number if exporting as a company.
- Export general merchandize registration – Obtain a certificate from the Ministry of Trade’s Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
- NXPIN registration – Register with the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority to obtain your unique NXPIN number for exports.
- VAT and ECOWAS exemptions – Apply and get certified for ECOWAS and value-added tax (VAT) exemptions on exports.
- Export license – For restricted exports like minerals or precious metals, obtain approved export permits and licenses.
- Export documentation – Required documents include commercial invoices, packing lists, NAIDP and NEPC forms, bill of lading, and more depending on the product.
- Export inspections – Certain commodity exports like cocoa or food undergo quality inspections by produce inspectors or SON.
- Port procedures – File entry documents, obtain a port gate pass, undergo inspections, get cargo released, and clear goods for loading at the port or airport.
- Foreign import procedures – Meet specific import regulations like fumigation, customs clearance, duties/taxes payment which are required in your export destination.
- Export financing – Open letters of credit with your bank and obtain pre-shipment financing to ease cash flow gaps.
Support for Nigerian Exporters
Nigerian exporters can take advantage of various domestic support programs and institutions including:
- Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) – NEPC provides training, market research, export consulting, trade fair support, and export promotion programs. They have international trade offices that can facilitate market entry.
- Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) – NEXIM offers export credit guarantees, export credit insurance, direct lending, trade information, and other programs to promote exports.
- Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) – NEPZA manages special economic zones with infrastructure to support export-oriented manufacturing and services. Companies receive tax benefits, expedited approvals, and streamlined procedures.
- Nigerian Customs Service – Customs provides training on documentation procedures and import/export guidelines. They have dedicated desks to facilitate clearance of export goods.
- Commercial banks – Major commercial banks have international trade divisions geared to support Nigerian exporters with trade finance, foreign exchange, etc.
- Trade associations – Industry trade associations offer export training, market connections, trade fair participation, and advocacy for their sector whether it is cocoa, rubber, textiles or food exports.
- State and federal agencies – States and government ministries often run specialized export assistance programs for key commodities in their jurisdiction from cash crops to mineral exports.
- Foreign trade offices – Embassies or foreign trade offices situated in Nigeria provide resources, contacts, and information on their country’s import regulations and buyer requirements.
Getting export training, financing, and support services from the above entities can help mitigate the challenges involved in exporting out of Nigeria.
Key Export Success Factors for Nigeria
Some vital tips for Nigerian companies to export effectively include:
- Build efficient value chain links from raw materials and production to shipping and marketing. Avoid waste, delays and unnecessary costs.
- Maintain international quality standards through process improvements, technology adoption, and staff training.
- Develop long-term relationships and close communication with overseas buyers rather than purely transactional interactions.
- Research each export market thoroughly and provide customized solutions to foreign buyers. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Use strategic pricing – be aware of competitor pricing but also position your product based on value, capabilities and quality.
- Arrange hassle-free logistics and documentation processes to deliver seamlessly to international clients.
- Manage exchange rate risks by hedging exposure to foreign currency fluctuations in key export markets.
- Offer appropriate trade financing terms for overseas buyers via letters of credit, factoring, and clear invoicing/payment schedules.
- Explore additional government incentives like grants, subsidies, or tax credits that encourage Nigerian exports.
- Leverage online platforms, digital marketing and social media to boost international visibility and orders at low cost.
By emphasizing value-added, relationship-based, and customer-centric exporting, Nigerian companies can thrive in foreign markets. Support programs also provide vital assistance to help new exporters navigate the process.
100 Lucrative Things to Export From Nigeria
Below are 100 of the most lucrative and practical items that Nigerian entrepreneurs can export globally:
- Cocoa beans
- Cashew nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Chili peppers
- Black pepper
- Hibiscus flowers
- Shea nuts
- Palm oil
- Fresh fruits – bananas, pineapples, oranges
- Vegetables – onions, okra, eggplant
- Cassava flour and starch
- Wood charcoal
- Herbs and spices – garlic, turmeric, cloves
Petroleum and Minerals
- Crude petroleum oil
- Refined fuel oil
- Liquefied natural gas
- Aluminum ingots and alloys
- Precious metals – gold, silver, platinum
- Tin ore
- Coal and lignite
- Lead ore
- Zinc ore
- Iron ore
Leather and Hides
- Finished leather
- Cow, goat, camel hides
- Reptile skins – snake, crocodile skins
- Leather footwear
- Leather handbags and luggage
- Leather garments
- Leather car seat covers
- Leather soccer ball panels
Textiles and Garments
- Cotton fabrics
- Ankara print fabrics
- Lace fabrics
- Batik print fabrics
- Kitenge fabrics
- Ready-made garments
- Traditional clothing and attire
- Home textiles – rugs, cushions etc.
- Hats and fabric headgear
- Teak wood
- Mahogany wood
- Seasoned wood planks
- Wood furniture and crafts
- Wood doors and construction materials
- Packaging materials – crates, pallets
- Toothpicks and skewers
Plastics and Foams
- Plastic furniture – chairs, tables
- Plastic homewares – buckets, bowls
- Plastic hangers
- Plastic ropes and strings
- Plastic floor or wall tiles
- Foam mattresses
- Plastic threads and yarns
- PET bottle preforms
- Plastic labels and stickers
- Plastic pipes, tubes, hoses
Pharmaceuticals and Beauty Products
- Medicinal botanical extracts
- Pharmaceuticals and generic drugs
- Essential oils
- Shea butter
- African black soap
- Cosmetics and beauty products
- Skin/hair care products
- Incense, fragrance and perfumes
- Sun protection creams and lotions
Metalwork and Machinery
- Copper articles – pipes, wires
- Steel pipes, rods, beams
- Metal furniture and crafts
- Electrical wiring and cables
- Metal ingots and scraps
- Industrial machinery and parts
- Metal nuts, bolts, screws, nails
- Aluminum cookware and utensils
- Hand tools – shovels, hammers, wrenches
Food and Beverages
- Nuts – roasted and packaged
- Dried fruit
- Fruit juices and concentrates
- Packaged spices and seasonings
- Chocolates and cocoa products
- Packaged snacks and biscuits
- Alcoholic spirits and liqueurs
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Sesame oil and seed oils
- Packaged soups and bouillon cubes
- Processed meat and fish
- Packaged grains – fonio, oats, quinoa
- Instant noodles and pasta
This list highlights the diversity of profitable export opportunities available from Nigeria ranging from traditional bulk commodity exports to processed foods, handcrafts, manufactured goods, and other products that provide value-added.
With proper market research and preparation, these present solid options for new Nigerian exporters looking to succeed globally.
The growth potential exists to expand and diversify exports beyond the current dependence on crude oil and raw materials. By tapping into rising international demand, Nigerian companies can build the export capacity that will drive broader economic development.
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